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Aug 12, 2018

The Disciplines of Living the Christian Life

The Disciplines of Living the Christian Life

Preacher: Carl Tompkins

Series: Summer 2018

Keywords: accomplishment, action, choices, generosity, giving, humility, reconciliation, success, the word of god

Summary:

This message looks at 6 disciplines in which Christians can engage that will help us be fruitful sons and daughters of our King.

Detail:

 

The Disciplines of Living the Christian Life (by Carl Tompkins)

My subject this morning is “The Disciplines of Living the Christian Life.”  The purpose of knowing and living up to these six disciplines is for the sake of enabling us to live a successful Christian life.

Success is all about accomplishment, and each of us has the opportunity to accomplish much for the Lord.  God is a successful God for He accomplishes His purpose perfectly.  His Son, and our Savior, Jesus is successful due to his past, current and future accomplishments.  Remember how, on the cross, Jesus has been quoted to say, “It is finished.”

We too are to be successful as His followers, for we have been entitled, “Ambassadors” of Christ, as defined in 2 Corinthians 5:20, representing him and serving him within this broken world.  And we must be accomplished in this task, as we’ve been created to be a purified race of his very own, eager to do what is good, as stated by Paul in Titus 2:14.  I, therefore, conclude that we must too be successful and our success largely depends on how well we comply with these following disciplines.

Discipline #1:  Choice

Choice is considered the most powerful word in the world.  It determines if we live or die and everything in between.  God mandated the concept of “choice” in the earliest records of our history, dating back to Adam and Eve.  Genesis 2: 16-17 states, “And the Lord commanded the man, ‘you are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for when you eat of it you will surely die.’”  Man was given the choice, for God has never wanted puppets or prisoners within his created race.

A great story depicting the power of choice is the story of actor, Gary Cooper, who in the thirties and forties was considered the leading man in Hollywood.  David O’ Selznick, a well-established movie director, sent a script to Gary to learn if he would be willing to play the lead in a new movie that David had earned the right to produce.  After reading the script, Gary returned it to David with a note that he chose note to take on the lead role, feeling that the movie would be one of the worst flops in motion picture history.  David did land a contract with his second choice leading man, a new upstart actor by the name of Clark Gable, who played the role of Rhett Butler in the movie, Gone with the Wind!  Gary Cooper lost out because of making a bad choice, and cost him dearly.

Choices must be made every day, and the discipline of making good choices, congruent with the Lord’s plan for you at that time, shapes your priorities and the outcome of glorifying Him.  Choose to surrender to the Lord God, which indicates your commitment to know his ways and following him.

Discipline #2:  Be right with the Lord; be reconciled daily.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We know that when we are right with the Lord that He is with us, but if we forsake Him, He will forsake us.  We learn this in 2 Chronicles 15:2, as Ezra writes on the reformation of Judah under King Asa.  Even at the cross we learned how God the Father cannot look upon sin, as His Son felt forsaken. Why? He carried upon him the sins of the world.

Reconciliation must be done daily.  Don’t allow anything to interfere in the frequency between you and the Lord.  Jesus taught in Matthew 5:24, be reconciled before offering your gifts of worship.

Everything we do should be wrapped in prayer; be sure to follow the ACTS model of Adoration-Cleansing-Thanksgiving- and Supplication.

Discipline #3:  Be empty of one’s self.

Author of “There’s only One Leader and You’re not It!” Bruce Witt writes, “The Lord isn’t interested in what you can do for Him, but rather what He can do through you!” This is a call to humble yourself before the Lord, noting that the less there is of you the more room there is for the Lord.  James 4:10 plainly states, “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.”

Actor Jack Lemmon told the story of director, John Avildsen cutting a particular scene in the movie Save the Tiger three times, stating that Jack was giving too much of himself in acting out his part.  Jack stated that if there was anything less of him within the scene, he wouldn’t be in it!  Director Avildsen responded, “Now you know what it takes to be a great actor.”  Jack took the advice and ended up winning the academy award that year for lead male actor.  To be empty of one’s self is the best position to be in for the sake of taking on a new and improved role.  In our case, it’s being fully filled by the Holy Spirit.

Note that no one ever graduates from this class. Include humbling yourself before the Lord through your daily reconciliation. 

Discipline #4:  Know the Way

No better story could be told than the words of God to Joshua, in the Book of Joshua 1:7-8. “Be strong and very courageous.  Be very careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

The Bible is our best form of counsel and should be studied daily.  It is God’s word to us in knowing exactly what we must do in order to honor him and the plan that He has set for us to fill.  Do as Jesus did, in setting us an example, as early in the morning prior to anyone being up we would find a quiet place, alone, where he could go one-on-one with His Father.  And make sure to pray, study the Word, and journal.  The practical application of starting your day this way is that there will never be an excuse not to; it’s often the only part of the day you control.  And as you meditate, be in conversation with the Lord throughout the day.

Discipline #5: Action

The great Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you get run over by just sitting there.” From my forty four years in managing businesses and helping others, I find this to be one of the most threatening problems toward achieving good things- a lack of effective action.  Biblically, Jesus defines this as bearing fruit.

Within your call, everyone is in the ministry and everyone needs to serve; a verb for taking action.   No one is asked to do everything but everyone must do something! The best remedy of getting over your problems in life is to start helping others solve their problems. 

I guarantee you that God does not want you to get stuck!  Note that everything must be wrapped in prayer but that prayer is not enough to get you out of the messes of life!  Pastor Ken Mitchell of New Community Church of Maple Valley Washington, states that you must get moving.  By Jesus’ own words, fifty eight times in the New Testament He says, “Come and follow me!” To follow is to move; it is to take action.  One of the most often quoted scriptures on this subject is Matthew 16:24 that really defines the course of life and action that we are to take:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Jesus’ brother James devotes much of his teaching to the subject of action.  James 2:15-17 provides a great summary point on the fact that faith without action is dead!

A closing testimony on action:  I’ve had the privilege to pray with people concerning problems they are facing.  Convinced that God desires to show Himself in mighty ways, we follow the ACTS form of prayer, and then close by defining what actions that we must take to participate with the Lord in discovering solutions.  Pray, get to work and pay attention was always my advice to others, as I wanted to hear good news by the same time the following week. For those who participated with God in securing solutions, each had a great testimony to share. 

God has more provisions to share than we can comprehend, as He delivers exactly on our needs when we participate in doing our part.  Get going!

Discipline #6: Giving

To each person, there are three forms of capital that the Lord desires that we manage well; think of our capital as those things having measurable value. Each of the three applies to us personally as well as for organizations and companies.  Those three forms of capital are money, social, and spiritual by category.

As for money, we shouldn’t love money but realize money is a tool to be used well.  Money and its proper uses are critical.  I have had many experiences with people who had great wealth, one in particular paid the government $320 thousand dollars a quarter in estimated payroll tax withholdings, and he was the most miserable person in the world!   Yet, there have been others who only had what was in their front pocket, giving all they could to others, who were the happiest and most content people you could ever meet.  Money and its proper use is important and interesting enough, there are over 2350 references to money in the Bible.

For us, there are two principles that we are to follow in our use of money:

First, to live within our means and our means should be enough to sustain us.  Proverbs 30: 7-9 depicts the writers request to be given just the right amount of riches, so as not to be so poor to steal, or so rich as to forget about God.    We’ve all heard of dialing 9-1-1 for emergency; I would highly recommend that you follow the 8-1-1 principle for financial security.  Live on 80%, tithe 10% and save 10%.  Everyone can and should do this.  Avoid the guidance of the world, which is to have today what you can pay for in the future.

 

Isn’t it interesting to learn that at the end of 2017, our nation’s amount of personal debt rose to an all-time high of 13.15 trillion dollars?  The US Census Bureau also reports that the average person carries $16,425 in credit card debt.

This Segway’s into the second principle; you need to tithe at least 10% of your earnings.  Everyone can do this, and we’re robbing God if we don’t.  Malachi 3:8-10 is specific on this subject, and is the only place in the Bible where God challenges us to put Him to the test.  If we are obedient to Him in this matter, the flood-gates of heaven will be thrown open and we will have blessings beyond measure.

The second form of capital is social capital and pertains to time and talent.  By each of us representing an equally important part of the body of Christ, it is important that such unique talents be given back to community, just as we do with our money.   1 Peter 4:10 states that we should use whatever gifts we have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  Like our tithes and offerings, regular allocation of our time must be given back to serve the brokenness of people.  Your church serves as a key avenue to channel your time and talent.  Make a point to learn what you can do to support the service that Mosaic provides our community and then do so.  Sadly, 20% of those who attend church regularly on a national basis do 80% of the missions and operational work.

The final form of capital is spiritual.  We are to create an environment that allows others to grow in Christ.  Isn’t it interesting to learn that the leading concern of MBA graduates from Whitworth University, here in our own city, is that they will not be able to live out their faith within the work-place? 

Think of an environment as an atmosphere or condition that encourages people to remain close to Jesus every step while at home, during vacation, at work, and at church.  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 to have a positive influence through a positive attitude.  Specifically, we are to think on those things that are good, noble, right, lovely, admirable, pure and praiseworthy.  Such things allow our light to shine brightly! You might think this a trivial condition of giving but note that the number one reason why people don’t attend church is that they cannot find Jesus!  And people find Jesus through people.  Our example will always be the best teacher.  Be one!

Well, there you have it; the six disciplines to practice for living the Christian life.  Some you may be doing, others may need polishing while others need to be started.  Such disciplines are never easy but remember one very important fact:  The pain of discipline goes away but the pain of regret lasts forever.

In closing, it is my hope that you found great worth in this message.  It is our practice of these six combined disciplines that allow us to receive life to the full, as Jesus defined in John 10:10.  To now have eternal life with Jesus, to know His peace, His joy, His power, His love, His rest, and completing good works for being a blessing to our Lord and all those around us; can you think of a better prize?  Let’s all run this race well and make sure to win it!  Amen.